While orthodox legal theory has purported to be gender-blind, it often neglects or in some instances even ignores the position of women. This silence has been criticized by feminist theorists who have placed discrimination against, and the subordination of, women firmly on the jurisprudential agenda. It is a development that has had an enormous impact on legal education. It extends also to almost every branch of the law and legal system. This chapter examines the key elements of feminist legal theory, including the following: the origins of feminism; and legal feminisms (liberal feminism, radical feminism, postmodern feminism, and difference feminism).
Many of the theories discussed in the previous chapters neglect or even ignore the position of women in society, and how they are treated by the law, the legal system, and other aspects of social, economic, and political life. Feminist writers have, in various ways, sought to correct this imbalance or prejudice. This chapter examines several key elements of feminist legal theories, and explores the origins of feminism; legal feminisms (liberal feminism, radical feminism, postmodern feminism, and difference feminism) and their impact on legal philosophy. It discusses the enormous literature on the subject, and its criticism of conventional jurisprudence.
James Penner and Emmanuel Melissaris
Fully updated and revised McCoubrey & White’s Textbook on Jurisprudence clearly breaks down the complexities of this often daunting yet fascinating subject. Sophisticated ideas are explained concisely and with clarity, ensuring the reader is aware of the subtleties of the subject yet not overwhelmed. With chapters dedicated to both key concepts and leading theorists, this text takes a wide-ranging look at jurisprudence and places central ideas in context. In particular it centres around one of the leading theorists, H. L. A. Hart, and considers the landscape of jurisprudence in relation to his seminal The Concept of Law, looking at the key ideas that influenced him and considering the response to his work. Coverage of post-modern and feminist legal theory is also included, alongside discussion of key theorists such as Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and John Rawls. Logically organised to support the topics commonly taught on jurisprudence and legal theory courses, this text provides an easy-to-follow and digestible account of this wide-ranging subject, making it the ideal companion text for further reading and research throughout your course. New to this fifth edition are: substantial revision of Part 1: Theories of the Nature of Law; discussion of philosophical issues in law, featuring three new chapters: The Building Blocks of Law: Norms and their Nature; Governing and Obedience; and Law and Adjudication; chapters on the political and legal philosophies of Hobbes, Kant, and Rawls; and substantial revision of the chapters on Marxism and postmodern legal theory.
All critical legal theorists share a deep cynicism about many of the important questions of legal theory. Fundamentally they reject many of the assumptions of both the legal and political order: for example, the free market, ‘meta-narratives’, and male or racial domination. This chapter first discusses the development of critical legal studies and then turns to postmodern legal theory, considering the views of Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jürgen Habermas. It then goes on to outlines the principal claims of critical race theory (CRT). It also considers the relationships between CRT and feminist theory and CRT and postmodernism.
Critical legal theory rejects what is generally regarded as the natural order of things, be it the free market (in the case of Critical Legal Studies), ‘meta-narratives’ (postmodernism), the conception of ‘race’ (Critical Race Theory), and patriarchy (in the case of feminist jurisprudence). Critical legal theorists share a profound scepticism about many of the questions that have long been regarded as at the core of legal theory. This chapter touches on the first three of these movements. It first discusses the development of critical legal studies and then turns to postmodern legal theory, considering the views of Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Jürgen Habermas. It then outlines the principal claims of Critical Race Theory (CRT), and considers the relationships between CRT and feminist theory and CRT and postmodernism.